U.S. President Donald Trump and Republicans are launching a broad election-year attack on the foundation of the Russia investigation, including declassifying intelligence information to try to place senior Obama administration officials under scrutiny for routine actions.

The effort has been aided by a Justice Department decision to dismiss its prosecution of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, an action that rewrites the narrative of the case in a way that former federal law enforcement officials say downplays the legitimate national security concerns they believe Flynn’s actions raised and the consequences of the lies he pleaded guilty to telling.

The dismissal decision comes as Trump and his Republican allies push to reframe the Russia investigation as a “deep state” plot to sabotage his administration, setting the stage for a fresh onslaught of attacks on past and present Democratic officials and law enforcement leaders.

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“His goal is that by the end of this, you’re just not really sure what happened and at some gut level enough Americans say, `It’s kind of messy,”’ said Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer.

The latest indication of that came Wednesday when two Republican critics of the Russia investigation,

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